Maryland football hires Josh Gattis, the nation’s top assistant coach in 2021, as offensive coordinator

Mike Locksley and Josh Gattis are teaming up again.

Maryland football has hired Gattis, who coached alongside Locksley at Alabama, as its new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the team announced Thursday.


The hiring could be seen as a burying of the hatchet for the former Crimson Tide assistants, who publicly took jabs at each other in 2019 after sharing the offensive coordinator title at Alabama in 2018. Gattis was originally expected to join Locksley’s staff at Maryland after the 2018 campaign, but he decided instead to take the offensive coordinator job at Michigan, where he spent three seasons and won the Broyles Award in 2021 as the nation’s top assistant.

“Josh and I have a strong relationship and a proven track record of working together to produce a potent offense,” Locksley said in a press release. “He and I share many of the same philosophies and it should be a very smooth transition.”

Former Miami offensive coordinator Josh Gattis instructs players on Aug. 5.

Before the 2019 season, Gattis told reporters that he had a “tremendous amount of respect” for Locksley, but added a comment that suggested Gattis felt he deserved more credit for Alabama’s offensive success. Locksley was the Crimson Tide’s play-caller, while Gattis created game plans.

“Mike Locksley can say I watched him call every play, but ask him where the game plans usually came from,” Gattis said, per the Detroit Free Press. “So I’m fine with that. He did call every play, and I’ve got a notebook upstairs with all the game plans written down in them.”

Locksley fired back the following day, saying “there’s a difference between suggestions and decisions.”

“I don’t care to comment on it, but I am, because I’d like to put this to bed,” Locksley said. “Here’s what I say. I’ve been a first-time play-caller before. Back in 2005 [at Illinois] was the first time I had a chance to call plays, so I know the anxiety that comes along with it. Josh knows the truth, that’s really important to understand.”

With the Wolverines, Gattis’ reputation as a play-caller grew after leading Michigan’s offense (35.8 points per game) to a Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff berth.

The move continues the carousel of offensive coordinators at Maryland since Locksley took over four years ago. The offensive coordinator job was open after Dan Enos left in January for the same title at Arkansas. Co-offensive coordinator Mike Miller also left in November to be the play-caller at Charlotte under former Gilman and St. Frances coach Biff Poggi.

Gattis, 39, isn’t the only new face on the offensive staff. Locksley last month also hired former Houston, Texas A&M and Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin as associate head coach, co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Sumlin, 58, who is a three-time national Coach of the Year finalist, most recently was the head coach and general manager of the Houston Gamblers of the USFL.

Gattis and Sumlin now form the third duo to lead the Terps’ offense under Locksley. Before Enos and Miller in 2021 and 2022, Scottie Montgomery and Joker Phillips split offensive coordinator duties in 2019 and 2020.

Former Miami offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis speaks during a news conference last season.

Maryland is Gattis’ fifth team in the past seven years, with his most recent stop being with Miami as the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator. Gattis, who jumped to the ACC when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was considering NFL head coaching jobs, was fired in January after just one season, as Miami’s offense sputtered in the 5-7 campaign. Under Gattis, the Hurricanes scored just 19.4 points per game, which ranked 114th out of 131 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Gattis played safety at Wake Forest and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He appeared in four games for the Chicago Bears that year — his only season with NFL game action. Gattis started his coaching career in 2010 at North Carolina as a graduate assistant before spending one season at Western Michigan and two at Vanderbilt as wide receivers coach. From 2014 to 2017, Gattis held multiple offensive assistant roles at Penn State under James Franklin, including wide receivers coach, passing game coordinator and offensive recruiting coordinator.

He spent one season at Alabama alongside Locksley, where the two coaches led an offense that finished third in the FBS in scoring at 45.3 points per game with Tua Tagovailoa, the older brother of Maryland signal-caller Taulia, at quarterback.

The Terps are also adding to the defensive side of the ball, as Maryland has hired former Texas State defensive coordinator Zac Spavital as its safeties coach. He replaces Wes Neighbors, who departed for Ole Miss in January after one season with the Terps.

Before joining Texas State in 2019, Spavital was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Texas Tech from 2015 to 2018 and Houston’s defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator from 2008 to 2014.

“Zac comes to us with a history of being part of defenses that have a tremendous amount of success, especially when it comes to being aggressive and taking the ball away,” Locksley said. “He’s worked with some really strong football minds during his career and we’re excited about what he brings to our staff and how he’ll be able to develop our players.”